10 April 2009

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

[NOTE FROM NP: Ten points to anyone who can identify this poetic form without looking up info on the poem.]

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Dylan Thomas was born in Wales in 1914.  He was a neurotic, sickly child who shied away from school and preferred reading on his own; he read all of D. H. Lawrence's poetry, impressed by Lawrence's descriptions of a vivid natural world.  Fascinated by language, he excelled in English and reading, but neglected other subjects and dropped out of school at sixteen.  His first book, Eighteen Poems, was published to great acclaim when he was twenty.  Thomas did not sympathize with T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden's thematic concerns with social and intellectual issues, and his writing, with its intense lyricism and highly charged emotion, has more in common with the Romantic tradition.  Thomas first visited America in January 1950, at the age of thirty-five.  His reading tours of the United States, which did much to popularize the poetry reading as new medium for the art, are famous and notorious, for Thomas was the archetypal Romantic poet of the popular American imagination: he was flamboyantly theatrical, a heavy drinker, engaged in roaring disputes in public, and read his work aloud with tremendous depth of feeling.  He became a legendary figure, both for his work and the boisterousness of his life.  Tragically, he died from alcoholism at the age of 39 after a particularly long drinking bout in New York City in 1953.


  1. Squee! One of my favoritest Dylan Thomas poems!

    Can't name the poetic form, alas - I was always more interested in function than form. ;-) But I can say that the only reason I'm a Dylan Thomas fan is because of Dick Francis, former steeplechase jockey and writer of mysteries extraordinaire, who used this very poem in his book THE EDGE. Fair got me addicted, he did.

    And a good thing, too!

  2. Poetry, of all things, is a good addiction.

  3. It's a villanelle. I didn't look up any specific information on the poem, but I guessed that it was a villanelle.
    P.S. I checked out the meaning of villanelle on Wikipedia, but only after I had guessed that this poem was a villanelle.

  4. Ten points to Martin! Good job!


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